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Double Hip Replacement Gave Me My Life Back, Twice: David’s Story

Close up view of the hand of someone holding the handle of a crutch following a hip replacement.

In his younger days, David Jones, PhD, likely never imagined he was headed for a double hip replacement.

He's a man of many talents. He’s working on a book about pyramids around the world. He once owned a restaurant in Miami. He has degrees in ancient African history and nutrition. His nutrition degree led him to work with several celebrities, including as a nutritionist for Muhammed Ali during his most famous boxing matches.

But David’s first passion was football. He played for the University of Maryland. “That was the lifestyle that I had; I was an athlete. I just wanted to run and play ball,” he says.

“I was getting hit, I was getting hammered, by those big guys. My last game, running through the line, I got hit. They held me up, and another guy speared me in the lower back. It stung so bad. I just walked off the field. And I had to quit my favorite pastime, my life, which was football,” recounts David. “Now I’ve got two metal hips.”

Years of Hip Pain

“It was immediately after I hurt my hip that the pain started,” David recalls.

Now 71, David lived with his hip pain for a long time. When I ask him what he felt before his hip replacement surgery, he describes it as, “P-A-I-N. Excruciating pain as it got worse and worse.”

He tried managing the pain with over-the-counter pain medicines, with little relief. “I tried it for a little while, but I stopped.” When I ask what else he did to help, he simply responds, “Grin and bear it.”

Quanjun Cui, MD, an orthopedic surgeon here at UVA Health, treated David and performed both of his hip replacements. “When he came to my clinic, he had a 10 out of 10, the worst hip pain,” Cui says. “He had really bad osteoarthritis. It was what we call ‘ankylosing’ – that means he had very limited range of motion. His hips were almost fused.”

“He wasn’t able to do anything. He couldn’t walk, couldn’t even sit for a few minutes. It was really affecting his quality of life.”

David agrees. “I'd been in pain so long, you know, I wound up on crutches. And at the very end, they were telling me to only take small steps with a cane or walker,” he states. He traveled from Roanoke to Charlottesville for help.

A Common Condition & Procedure

David wasn’t alone in this suffering. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint problem in the U. S., according to the National Institutes of Health. It breaks down the cartilage in your joints over time. An active lifestyle that includes high-impact sports and exercise can cause osteoarthritis of the hip to start developing at a young age.

By age 60 or older, about 10% of men and 13% of women have it. It’s the most common reason people wind up needing a joint replacement. Surgeons perform about 400,000 hip replacements in the U.S. each year. “It’s one of the most successful operations,” notes Cui.

Finding Relief Through Hip Replacement

Cui recalls, “We did his left hip, and he had great results, with great pain relief and a great improvement of his quality of life. Unfortunately, when you have a problem in one hip, you’ll probably get a similar problem in the other one. That's what he had.

“So, a few years later — it was in 2019 — he had his right hip replaced. After both hips were taken care of with total hip replacement, he just totally became like a new person. He could do almost anything he'd like to do. He runs, he walks, he’s enjoying his life.”

David definitely felt a huge improvement following his hip replacements. The way he describes it is like night and day. “Once I got off of the operating table, it was like I had a new life,” says David, referring to his first hip replacement. “I had no pain whatsoever — not even an inkling of pain.”

Hip Replacement Recovery: Moments of Joy

His newfound relief led to an exuberant time in recovery. “When they woke me up, Dr. Cui was there. I said, ‘What do you want me to do?,’ and he said, ‘Walk.’ When I first put my foot down, I could feel no pain. So I started walking. Then I started walking fast. And then I started trotting! I had a nice, fast trot. And he said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute!’” laughs David.

Having Hip Pain?

See if a hip replacement can improve your quality of life.

He’s got a similar story following his second surgery. “I got up, put my feet down, and I started walking out of there. I said, ‘What? I feel no pain.’ I went into the hallway, and I said, ‘Wow, this feels good. Let me show you something.’ Out in the hallway, I did a sprint. They said, ‘No, don’t run, don’t run!’ But I ran about 10, 15 yards, and then I walked back! I said, ‘I’m feeling great.”

Cui is fond of visits from David. “Also, he's a good dancer. Every time he comes to my clinic, he shows off how he can dance.”

“We have a great team here. It's a comprehensive surgical team, from pre to postop. We have the best quality of care provided here,” notes Cui.

The way David sees it, “I told him, ‘You’re phenomenal.’ That doctor gave me my life back. Twice.”

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